Has your dentist recommended dentures for you? If so, you might be curious about what they're made of. In short, the most basic materials that are used today are acrylic, nylon, porcelain, resin, and some contain pieces of metal. These materials may vary in some instances, but most dentists and prosthodontists will have a standardized option that they use in almost every case.

Let's look at each individual denture component and discuss what materials are used to make them.

Denture base 

Partial dentures base

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

The denture base is the foundational structure that sits on your jaw bone and looks most like the gum tissue. No matter what type of denture you get - complete dentures or a partial denture - they will both require a denture base. Acrylic resin is the most common type of material used here.

The first step in making dentures is to take impressions. Your dentist may use either analog or digital impressions - either one works well. They may also take several measurements and pictures of your face. The reason they take pictures is because later, during the final stages of the fabrication, the dental lab will match the shape of the denture teeth to your face shape.

Once the impressions have been taken, they'll be sent to the lab. The lab will pour a mold of your teeth and use that to cast a wax model. Wax is used at first so that the base can be properly fitted to your mouth. You'll likely need to return to the office for a "wax try-in." Adjustments will be made as needed, and then the base will be returned to the lab, who will finish the base using the acrylic materials.

Partial dentures framework

Partial dentures base and framework

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

Most partial plates contain some sort of metal framework. Since there are other teeth still present, they are often used as an anchor for the partial denture. This helps stabilize the denture and keep it in place when eating and speaking. Metal clasps protrude from the acrylic base and partially circle the remaining teeth. In some instances, metal meshing is placed inside the denture base to make them more sturdy. This most often occurs if the denture is very thin.

Acrylic clasps can be used in instead of metal, but they do come with some disadvantages. Metal clasps are much more malleable, making them easier to adjust. In addition, metal clasps can be repaired if broken. There is often no flexibility or ability to repair broken acrylic clasps.

As far as what type of metal is used, there are various options. Base metal alloys have been used most often over the last few decays. The alloys contain chromium, nickel, and cobalt.

False teeth

Metal partial denture for lower arch

Picture by Authority Dental under CC 2.0 license

When the denture bases have been completed, it's time to add the fake teeth. You'll get to choose what shade you want your new teeth to be. Choose wisely as the shade cannot be changed with whitening products.

Like the rest of your denture, the false teeth are typically made from acrylic resin. However, there are some materials that might look more like a natural tooth. Porcelain teeth are occasionally used for a slightly more aesthetic look. Of course, this might also mean higher dentures cost.

FAQ

What are the highest quality dentures made of?

Acrylic resin or plastic is the highest quality material for dentures. It is also the most commonly used denture material.

How are porcelain and acrylic resin materials different?

Price points for both are similar. Porcelain dentures do not erode as quickly, are easy to clean, and look more like your natural tooth, but are more prone to cracking. The downside of acrylic dentures is that they are not as strong as porcelain.

Are metal dentures toxic?

Metal dentures are produced to be safe if properly maintained. There is the issue that some patients may have a sensitivity to metal, so this should be addressed before having the dentures made.

How were dentures made in the past?

The history of dentures is very interesting and might surprise you. In historic times, a denture was a sign of great wealth. Only those in the greatest standing were able to afford the rare materials that were used: precious metals, jewels, and ivory. Even animal teeth and other human teeth were used at times.

Thankfully, due to modernization, getting dentures has been made greatly available and better than ever before so everyone can have a healthy smile.

References

  1. Stainability of acrylic resin materials used in CAD-CAM and conventional complete dentures - NIH
  2. Final‐impression techniques and materials for making complete and removable partial dentures - Cochrane Library
  3. Denture base materials and the refitting of dentures - ScienceDirect
  4. Partial dentures. Materials - BDJ